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Kristin Hersh - Murder, Misery and then, Goodnight (4AD)

If Tori Amos is completely hat-stand, then Kristin Hersh must be a whole wardrobe full of coathangers. I tell you, she's totally loopy. Anyone who could sing so sweetly about such an array of murders, deaths, misery and suicide is probably dangerous.

The truly terrifying thing about these songs is that there's a whole group of people in America's Appalachian mountains that sing these songs regularly, for enjoyment. Forget religious cults, someone should send out the National Guard to take out these freaky folk singers!

OK, maybe I'm going a bit far, (coming from a musical tradition that includes such bright ditties as 'I am Stretched on Your Grave', I really can't talk), but we ain't talkin' Nick Cave's "Murder Ballads" here. This is sweet, nice, pretty songs that reveal the dark, twisted and very humorous heart of folk music. Stabbings, poisonings, drownings, shootings - your average, every-day kind of events. This is Nick and Kylie with sugar on top.

One other point I must make, though, the people of the Appalachians are complete wussies! 'three nights drunk'? The Dubliners managed 12 (same song, different version.) There's nothing special about being drunk three nights in a row, that's your average weekend. (Oh dear, I'm betraying my alcoholi... sorry, Irish tendencies.)

Kristin Hersh does it again, basically. Another great acoustic collection from the former Muse, this time exhibiting her musical roots rather than just drawing on them. They just don't write songs like these anymore (whether that's a good or a bad thing is debatable.)

by Donnacha DeLong